A week after taking the unprecedented step of suspending three colleagues, the California state Senate erased the lawmakers’ names, press releases and archives from its websites. The Senate left in place bare-bones information for the districts of Democratic Sens. Leland Yee of San Francisco, Ronald Calderon of Montebello and Roderick Wright of Los Angeles, with phone numbers and a list of constituent services staff can provide.
On the one hand, the Senate’s actions make sense. The senators are suspended — they can’t vote or set foot in the chamber. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg’s office told the Associated Press that the website scrubbing was similar to what would happen if a lawmaker lost an election or left office through resignation or term limits. Their legislative histories, including bills proposed and votes cast, are still available through the Senate's website.
But on the other hand, deleting the lawmakers’ archives deprives the public — and journalists — of useful information, such as statements and press releases, that may be enlightening as Yee’s and Calderon’s cases proceed through the court system. CalNewsroom.com said it had used Yee’s website as recently as Friday to track his history on gun control legislation, and other interested observers might have wanted to research his past statements when Yee was arraigned Tuesday on federal gun-trafficking charges.
Senators are understandably trying to distance themselves from the lawmakers and send a clear message that corruption and dishonesty will be punished. Yee was indicted last month for allegedly exchanging political favors for campaign cash and attempting to broker illegal gun deals; Calderon was indicted in February for allegedly soliciting and taking bribes; and Wright was convicted in January on voter fraud and perjury charges for lying about his legal residence when he ran for office.
It's one thing to shun a scandalous colleague, but is it appropriate to erase their public histories in the Senate before they're actually expelled or resign?
Must-read headlines from L.A. to CA:
Campaign cash run amok? It’s worse in California, San Francisco Chronicle
Think last week’s McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission decision, in which the Supreme Court said rich guys could give to as many congressional campaigns as they like, is, to quote San Francisco’s own Nancy Pelosi, “a very existential threat” to our system of government? Cheer up. Things could be worse. It could be California.
Road tax opponents angered by possible financial breaks for downtown developers, Los Angeles Daily News
As Los Angeles leaders weigh asking voters to fund $4 billion in road and sidewalk repairs, they are also considering a flurry of financial subsidies for downtown developers, drawing criticism from City Hall watchdogs.
L.A. councilman pushes for convicted workers to lose city pensions, Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles City Councilman Mitchell Englander is pushing for the city to change its rules so that any employee convicted of a felony involving their city job can be required to forfeit their pension. The move comes after The Times reported that a building inspector sentenced to prison in an FBI corruption case would continue to receive his yearly pension of more than $72,000.
Bullish About L.A., Los Angeles Magazine
Q&A with Eli Broad on L.A.’s future, activism, art and politics: “I liked Antonio Villaraigosa. He was a great cheerleader. But my idea of great mayors are Mike Bloomberg in New York, Richard Daley and Rahm Emanuel in Chicago, and Tom Menino in Boston.”
California's unfunded retiree healthcare liability now $150 billion, rivals pension debt, Flash Report
Ignoring the growing costs associated with lifelong retiree health plans is particularly acute in the state of California. This neglect has serious consequences: (1) It is more expensive than prefunding over the long term and shifts costs to future generations, (2) It injects significant future risk into overall budgets and funding for public services, and (3) It jeopardizes the ability to provide those benefits in the future.